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The future of sports injuries will be in 3D
26 February 2009
A study shows that new three-dimensional technologies applied to the traditional ultrasound scan significantly improve the quality of imaging. The applications, already used in the gynaecological field, are particularly useful for carrying out an increasingly reliable diagnosis and more effective treatment of musculoskeletal system injuries.
For several years now doctors have been using ultrasound scanning as a tool for diagnosing sports injuries. Medicine is now in the hands of technology to achieve a clear improvement in imaging quality, which will not only result in a better diagnosis, but also a more effective treatment and subsequent recovery.
This research, led by José Fernando Jiménez Díaz, a specialist in sports medicine from the University of Castilla la Mancha, analysed the usefulness of these new applications in injuries, particularly those produced in work or sports contexts. It has already been used for several years in specialist areas such as gynaecology for the diagnosis and monitoring of pregnancies.
To carry out the assessment, the study, published in the journal Advances in Therapy, compared two high definition ultrasound portable devices. One of the devices had the traditional applications and the other had in its system: harmonic imaging, real time ultrasound, panoramic view, 3D imaging and virtual convex.
Fives types of injuries were compared: muscle contusion, intrinsic muscle lesion, patellar tendonitis, calcified patellar tendonitis and partial rupture of the medial ligament of the knee. The results showed that the new systems incorporated improve the scanning of injured tissues in all types of injury analysed.
"Applications of this technology focus on both the diagnosis and treatment of injuries," Jiménez Díaz explained to SINC. "The new branch of ultrasound scanning, known as intraoperative ultrasound, makes it possible to avoid some of the surgeries that were previously unavoidable when applying ultrasound-guided treatment to the musculoskeletal system."
The promising future of 3-D technology
While new technological applications have been adopted in major hospitals over the last three to four years, three-dimensional applications in portable or compact devices have only been applied since the beginning of 2007 in the diagnosis of soft tissue injuries (those on the skin, the subcutaneous tissue, the aponeuroses and muscles).
As the researcher indicated to SINC, "the idea behind an improvement in imaging quality is not to give the patient a prettier photo, but rather to improve the scanning of structures, particularly small injuries which are difficult to interpret. This is where the 3-D experience can help achieve optimum injury recovery".
Experts are optimistic about the future of these types of technologies. "The blooming of the ultrasound in diagnosing injuries is yet to come. I hope that applications for scanning structures which we still consider partially blind improve even more. The improvement will enable a safer diagnosis and the application of a more reliable treatment", concluded Jiménez Díaz.